A good story is worth repeating.........
Ghosts of Christmas Past
I learned a lot about interpersonal relationships from watching my parents interact with their parents.
It was a far better learning experience than any college psychology course I ever took.
My father called his parents Mother and Dad. It was all very formal and polite. As were all dealings with his side of the family.
On the other hand, my father called my mother’s parents Mom and Pop. Things were much less formal in my mother’s parent’s home. They were always laughing and joking and had a twinkle in their eyes. (And Grandma always looked suspiciously like Mrs. Santa Claus to me!)
But I digress….
My father was always respectful to his parents but I got the feeling he didn’t exactly believe in the things they taught him. (They were quite the bigots, among other things.)
I only saw my father show anger towards either of them once.
It was Christmas Eve. I was five or six. I was excited beyond measure.
It was CHRISTMAS EVE and MY GRANDPARENTS WERE VISITING.
I was having a really hard time getting to sleep. I kept coming downstairs to tell my parents I couldn’t sleep (probably every five minutes.) My mother would gently scoot me back into bed and try and calm me down.
On my last trip downstairs to say I couldn’t sleep my Grandmother lost her patience and yelled at me, “Santa is NEVER going to come! You’re a BAD little girl! You’ll never get ANY presents EVER! Now go to sleep! (She never pulled any punches!)
I was so stunned I actually backed up against the wall. I couldn’t have been more surprised if she had slapped me!
My father was across the living room when she yelled at me and in the blink of an eye he was at his mother’s side.
He grabbed her upper arm, spun her around and with daggers in his eyes said; ‘Don’t EVER talk that way to MY children. EVER AGAIN!
I was agog.
I had never seen my father do anything remotely like that before.
Have I mentioned that my father was the MOST non-violent person I have ever known in my life? He didn’t even believe in spanking us, so for him to actually grab Grandma in anger was beyond anything I’d ever known him to do.
In later years I think I came to know why he was the way he was.
Growing up all I ever knew of my father’s parents was what a milquetoast Grandpa was. How Grandma emasculated him. How she was always picking on him and belittling him in front of people.
Then my father told me a story that happened when he was sixteen. His parents were having a fight and Grandpa hit Grandma.
Yup, Grandpa used to beat Grandma up on a regular basis. My father decided he’d had enough. So on this particular occasion, as Grandpa raised his hand to hit Grandma my father stepped between the two of them and said, “Don’t you hit my mother!”
To his great surprise and amazement it was his MOTHER who turned on him and said, “Don’t you ever come between your father and me again!”
He was shocked that he was being berated for trying to help her. And he said he never tried to intervene again.
I think that was a very formative point in his life.
And I could understand why he was such a pacifist.